NOT VERY MANY years ago in a country very like this one, you could turn up to a multi-make car show driving a Japanesebranded model and be treated like you had just offered everyone on the grounds a dose of the plague.
Unless your arrival was in convoy with a club the gate-person often had no idea where to send you. Frequently your vehicle ended up parked way off in the distance and as you headed in the direction of the pointed finger there might even be a muttered ‘Jap crap’ to send you on your way.
The world has of course changed and Japanese models have taken their rightful places among admired brands from other countries. Now owners who stuck by their Japanese ‘classics’, sometimes for several decades, are very much enjoying the last laugh.
The early months of 2019 have seen records tumble with high-profile Japanese models from both Nissan and Toyota selling for $250,000 and more. Even cars that would hardly count themselves as ‘exotic’ are turning in strong performances at auctions and via dealer sales.
The muscular-looking Mazda RX-3 that topped $50,000 at a recent Shannons sale did pretty much as was expected, but the surprise packet from that night was a Toyota MR2 that made more than $30,000.
Newcomers to the classic movement will find cars that have played ‘second banana’ to very successful designs from the same manufacturer remain affordable. In this category we include the Datsun 260Z and especially the practical 2+2 version. These cost half the price of a market-darling 240Z yet offer similar dynamics and looks.
Japan from the 1960s-90s designed hundreds of models aimed at family buyers and most now are impossible to find. Cars like the early Datsun Bluebird SS or SSS, running and rustfree, would command huge money in the Japanese market and wouldn’t be cheap here either. The same, except for the money part, could be said for a Stanza SSS, another that has apparently sunk without trace.
Elsewhere in this issue I mention the Subaru RX Turbo. No, not the WRX although early versions of those have suddenly become scarce as well. The RX is typical of the cars that made motorsport history in this country yet have been absolutely ignored and driven to virtual extinction by apathy.
Despite struggling to muster 130kW, a 4WD RX delivered back-to-back Australian rally titles to Adelaide-based motor engineer Barry Lowe. If you find a really good one it might make $15,000. Similarly insulting money is available for Mazda Familias like Murray Coote’s 1988 ARC winner or the VR4 Galant that brought Ed Ordynski his first title in 1990.
Models that were consistent winners on bitumen have suffered similar degrees of ambivalence and $20,000 will still buy decent-excellent examples of the Honda CRX, single-turbo Toyota Supra or Nissan 280ZX. Time is marching on and a lot of these cars will not survive another decade without the attention of committed owners.
Assessments focus on market movements for various vehicles during the past 12 months and provide, where possible, guidance on realistic pricing for the different models available.
The average values shown at the end of each vehicle review are based on surveys of cars offered for sale privately and through licensed dealers in metropolitan markets throughout Australia and on the internet.
Note that the number in brackets following each average price represents the number of vehicles surveyed. Any average based on fewer than 20 vehicles is not necessarily representative of the market position of that particular model at the time.
Where I/D (Insufficient Data) or N/S (None Surveyed) is shown against a model designation, it indicates that no vehicles fitting the description were found during the survey period for this 2019 Buyers Guide.
The values shown in the charts are based on advertised asking prices and reported sales from all parts of Australia, using data supplied by dealers, private purchasers and auction houses. Usually, the values quoted reflect prices being achieved by vehicles sold by private vendors.
Where a model is rarely offered on the Australian market, estimates are based on overseas value guides and auction results.
Careful reading of the Condition Category descriptions below is vital to effective use of the Price Charts.
NOTE: Price tracker boxes indicate price movements of that model since 1998.
SUPRA 2.8 Model
$14,600 Average price of vehicles surveyed
 Number surveyed
BODY Should be free of dents, rust or obvious repairs. Minor stone chips are permissible, major blemishes or mismatched paint work are not. Brightwork must be complete and show no evidence of damage.
INTERIOR Seats should be covered in original pattern material free of rips or other damage, floor covering should be complete, clean and of correct material, headlining clean. Dashes – especially timber or veneer – should be free of cracks or discolouration.
ENGINE BAY Clean with no water, oil, fuel or battery leaks. Hoses and belts need to be in sound condition. The correct engine, or one which was optional to the model, should be fitted. Authentic components are a must if the car is to be upgraded to concours standard.
UNDERBODY No dents or damage to underseal, exhaust system complete and undamaged, no oil leaks from the differential, transmission or shock absorbers. All suspension components should be in good working order.
WHEELS & TYRES Original wheels with correct hubcaps or aftermarket wheels in keeping with vehicle style and age should be fitted. Tyres need to be correct size and speed rating, with at least 50 per cent original tread.
BODY No serious rust or large areas of body filler evident. Minor bubbling in nonstructural areas permissible. Paint should be good quality but may show evidence of repairs, chips and scratches. Brightwork should be good generally, but areas of dulled or scratched chrome are likely.
INTERIOR Seats may have been re-covered but should be in good general condition. If the trim is original, areas of wear and broken stitching are likely. Floor coverings should be complete, carpets and hoodlining preferably to original pattern. Cleaning may be required.
ENGINE BAY Engine should be of original type although original engine is unlikely. No major fluid leaks or discolouration. Cleaning will be required.
UNDERBODY No serious damage, however scrapes and chipping likely. Minor oil leaks are common, exhaust should be complete and free from holes or burning around joints. Suspension components such as kingpins, ball joints and shock absorbers need to be roadworthy.
WHEELS & TYRES Wheels should be the original rims or legal-sized aftermarket units. Tyres should have at least legal tread depth left.
BODY Moderate rust is inevitable, although chassis, firewall and other structural areas should be sound. Minor body damage is common. Paint likely to be faded, with uneven colour. Body filler usually found in panels but unacceptable in structural areas. Brightwork should be basically complete and major components like the grille must be fitted. Rechroming or polishing of most parts will be required.
INTERIOR Seats need to be structurally sound but will normally need re-covering. Floor coverings likely to be damaged or missing. Door trims should be fitted but may need replacement. Vinyl dashboard tops usually cracked or warped.
ENGINE BAY The engine should run but work will be needed, with the engine bay likely to be dirty and oil stained. Hoses and fuel lines may need replacement for the vehicle to be reliable.
UNDERBODY Will show signs of neglect and damage (dents, stone damage, etc) but should be free of major rust. Chassis and structural members need to be straight. Suspension components and exhaust systems will usually need replacement.
WHEELS & TYRES Wheels should be free of major damage, but tyres will normally need replacement.
VEHICLES in genuine concours condition will be completely original or rebuilt to the highest standards. Generally they are better than when new. Some cleaning or replacement of minor components may be required but anything more than minor blemishes will significantly reduce the car’s chances of success.
Cars with the potential to achieve Gold standard (90 per cent or better) in open judging can cost 50 per cent or more over Condition One values.
The author and publisher have made every effort to ensure the accuracy of the 2019 Unique Cars Market Guide, but we do not accept responsibility for any loss or inconvenience caused by errors or omissions.
Values are subject to change due to social, political or economic circumstances within Australia or elsewhere.
This magazine provides useful guides on trends, but they are always subject to change. We suggest any purchase like this should be done with your eyes wide open and treated as a personal reward rather than part of a retirement plan.
To determine the value of a specific vehicle, inspection by an appropriately qualified specialist is strongly recommended.
Anyone on the hunt for a Datsun 1600 and disappointed by a scarcity of good cars might like to consider a snappy 1200 Coupe or perhaps jump to a 240K. 1600s that haven’t had their character hijacked by latter-day modifications are hard to find and cars that aren’t remotely outstanding can still reach $30,000. More 510 Hardtops are being unearthed in Japan but competition from US collectors pushes their prices towards $60,000. Hot-rodded examples of the 1200 utility can exceed $20K, with the much cuter coupe $5000 cheaper. We found a Japanese-market 240K coupe at more than $60,000 but locally-sold cars at $15-20,000 have better growth potential. Early Bluebirds were mostly commercial versions at prices below what’s typical for passenger models.
Datsun during the 1970s led sales races in the small and medium categories, however its big-selling 180B and 200B models are becoming hard to find. On the plus side the 180B which shares the 1600 model’s desirable independent rear suspension is half the price of its predecessor. 200B sedans are slightly cheaper than 180Bs, SSS coupes of both kinds can make $20,000. A 180SSS with rally history was offered at $35,000. The 1970s Datsun that has surprised everyone is the 120Y. So many were scrapped it seemed there would be no survivors but numbers of available cars are up (except for coupes) and so are prices. The big 240-300C sedans and hardtops can get costly and finding body/trim parts is already challenging.
Look at where Jaguar E Type prices sit currently and it’s hardly surprising that the Jag-inspired 240Z seems also headed for six-figure territory. Money being paid for Zs on the world market peaked in 2017 but hasn’t fallen very far and will rebound. In Australia, asking prices continued to climb as 240Zs sold at or above $50,000. Twoseat 260Zs at $30-35,000 currently offer better value, with 2+2 cars $10,000 below that. The 280ZX is gaining some ground too and outstanding cars with five-speed manual transmission exceed $20,000. If you want an open-top Datsun, the Fairlady and 1600 models cost $20-25,000 and still lag well behind the ‘superstar’ 2000 Sports.
Compact Hondas of most kinds are affordable and offer interesting motoring. Exceptions to the ‘affordable’ rule are the quirky S600 and S800 sports cars that in excellent and basically original order will usually cost $30,000+. Against them from a different era is the 1.6-litre CRX costing $9000-12,000 and the faster and much more modern Civic Type R. These may be imported privately from Japan or post-2007 cars that were sold locally. Which Honda in the longer term is more likely to appreciate is hard to determine, but if we had an early CRX we’d be keeping it. 1970s Civics are becoming a little easier to find and values for very good cars are climbing towards $6000, however 1985-91 versions are still cheap.
Numbers of these once-desirable Hondas decline as the relative cost of keeping them going climbs. Even the ones that are left don’t help their own survival with declining values and scarce parts. VTi-R Integras from the 1990s offer cheap, interesting transport but panels are in short supply. In better shape regarding maintenance are rapid 1999-2003 Integra Type Rs with 141-147kW and 1.8 or 2.0-litre engines. Top examples will cost $16-18,000. Surviving Accords are usually 1980-90s models but need to be very well-preserved to manage $5000. Similar money is available for excellent Preludes of similar age. The later VTi-R Preludes are more practical for frequent use and around the same money as the older shape Si.
Somewhere in this country there still exist some of the original, oddly-styled Honda Insights and those cars are ticking time bombs – in a good way. As adoption of electric vehicles increases, demand will heighten for these pioneering Hondas and values for the all early hybrids should increase. The S2000 sports car isn’t even starting to look its age and its engine remains ranked as one of the ten best automotive power units of all time. Early S2000s generally show lowish kilometres and good cars cost $20,000. NSXs are trying their best to generate collector interest, with owners locally pushing asking prices towards $150,000 and mirroring the US$100K now being achieved in overseas markets.
Some recently-devised Lexus models have the potential to become ‘classics’ but it will be a while before the LC500 starts making gains in the manner of its LFA predecessor. Of the affordable Lexus offerings with potential for growth perhaps look at an early IS-F with minimal kilometres on the clock and $35,000 on the windscreen. The big LS sedans were a used-market disaster back in the 1990s and boat anchors today. The very best LS400 might make $10,000 and a low-km LS430 $8000 more. An early GS300 with good history at $6000-7000 makes a nice car for regular use and above that look at $20,000 for a convertible SC430.
If you’re a regular commuter, think about the last time you saw an MX5 of any kind plodding its way through the morning peak. Lots of MX5s were sold in Australia and survival rates are high, however they just don’t seem to get much use and maybe that is helping values across the market to remain flat. Very early cars can get above $12,000 but that’s still less than half the money these cars cost when new. There is great club support and as a fun car they offer very reasonable levels of comfort and weather-proofing even without the hardtop option. If you revel in performance, spend $20,000 on a low-kilometre NB Series Turbo.
Survivors from the ranks of sporty Mazdas built during the past 40 years still exist in decent quantities and are generally affordable. Most surprising was the appearance of some SS 323s from the early 1980s and the realistic money being sought by vendors. On average and if you can find one a rally-spec 4WD Familia turbo is only $2000 more. MX-6 Turbos from the late 1980s seemed almost extinct however they have been popping up of late and challenging lovers of torque steer to preserve them. V6 versions are easier to drive and a little cheaper. For something compact, interesting and quick that’s under $5000 and works as regular transport, consider an SP20 or the later and more expensive SP23.
The market for 1970s rotary-engined Mazdas has calmed significantly since last year. Most surprising was a decent-looking RX2 Coupe being discounted several thousand dollars by a frustrated dealer, however there were also sedans sitting unsold at a lot more. Four-cylinder Capella sedans that haven’t been converted to RX2 ‘clones’ are scarce but prices are stable. 808s share their architecture with the in-demand RX3 and are becoming expensive. We didn’t see nearly as many RX3s in the 2018 market as there were in 2017 and the mega high-value cars were missing. $60-70,000 is fair for an excellent Australian-delivered RX3 sedan with history. For a fun, inexpensive older Mazda the 1000-1300 series can be found at under $10,000.
Sharing their shape with the very desirable RX4 hasn’t done LA2-series 929s any harm at all. 1970s sedans that haven’t as yet been cloned to resemble RX4s cost less than $20,000 but genuine RX4s are double that amount. RX4 Hardtops with no competition background will soon go close to matching RX3 coupe money. If you want a rotary-engined rarity, $20-25,000 buys an RX5 hardtop or rare Landau. Later 929s haven’t fared well and $5000 typically buys a mid-1980s Limited. Or spend $10,000 on a scarce Turbo Hardtop. One that deserves to survive if only as a tribute to its own competence is the 1990-96 Gen 5 929 but even good ones bring almost no money.
Forty years after the first RX7 was sold in Australia, plenty of Series 1 and 2 cars survive and a lot of those remain in excellent condition. Buyers need to choose whether they want their car in basically standard or seriously modified condition because prices for stock or modded cars don’t vary much. Excellent S1-2 cars cost around $25,000 with S3s slightly cheaper. The shape and character of the RX7 changed in 1986 when factory turbocharging became an option. A convertible was also added however Australia didn’t see the turbo version until imports of ex-Japanese market cars started arriving. Series 4 and 5 Turbo coupes don’t normally show big disparities so blame a small sample for pushing the S5 average above $25,000.
Japanese-spec RX7s arriving in droves for the past 10 years seem to be silently consuming any surviving, Aussie-delivered Series 6 or 7 cars. Not really, but apart from intra-species cannibalism it is hard to explain the declining numbers of 1992-97 RX7s, even though values remain pretty strong. The money being sought for S6-7 and S8 cars is similar however the early cars offer better long-term prospects. Keen and wealthy collectors might prefer an Australia-only SP at over $100,000 or an import Type R Spirit in the $70-80Ks. For a rotary that costs a lot less than an RX7 and is more practical look for an RX8 at under $10,000 or even the very scarce, triple-rotor Cosmo 20B coupe.
Without the after-market import industry, Australia would have missed out on some of the best Mitsubishis ever made. Not until 2005 when the local company started selling EVO IXs did we start getting a reliable stream of these quasi-rally rockets. The all-wheel drive turbo Lancer lineage began with the fairly meek GSR and precious few of those survive. Then came the EVOs – a lot of early ones acquired for conversion to competition cars – then came the EVO VIs which served to satisfy demand for roadgoing performance cars. The pick of these are ‘6.5’ Timo Makinen commemorative models that can exceed $40,000. If you have half that money though, EVO VIIs and VIIIs are still affordable.
Plans for a 2020 relaunch of the Mitsubishi Express shouldn’t affect sales of the ‘grey market’ Delica. Early versions are disappearing quickly but being replaced by better equipped 2001-06 models at under $15,000 and 2007-09 versions only $5000 more. Still out there but disappearing as imports seem to have stopped are two of Mitsubishi’s more interesting twin-turbo models; the Legnum wagon and 3000GTO coupe. The 3000 was sold here for a while in Twin Turbo and non-Turbo form but buyer response was abysmal and the recent price recovery comes as a surprise, The 2.5-litre Legnum VR4 is a good thing but people seem wary of mechanical complexity so they are stuck in the $6000-9000 bracket.
Mixing locals and low volume imports in this category indicates the variety of older Mitsubishis available at under $10,000, The one model in here to exceed that price cap is the Starion and even after 35 years it hasn’t as yet clawed back its new-car cost. Of the rest, early VR4 Galants offer an interesting experience for your $10K and the FTO coupe is something different for enthusiastic youngsters with $5000 for a first car. The Sigma, once Australia’s best-selling four-cylinder car, has fallen on hard times, as has its two-door Scorpion sibling. A well-preserved Sigma 2.0-litre might cost $5000 however most are faded, priced at or under $1500 and just one roadworthy failure from the scrap yard.
Most of the ETs sold here have apparently gone home or somewhere because very few of these feisty Pulsar turbos and related EXA coupes survive. Prices despite the scarcity aren’t high with the best of the EXAs at $8000-10,000. NX coupes are cheap with minimal prospects for growth, but they do offer value for first-time buyers. Another one worth a look is the SSS version of the 1992-1994 Pulsar N14 for which you can pay up to $6000. Nissan’s attempt at an all-wheel drive rally weapon, the Pulsar GTi-R, wasn’t sold here when new but they are affordable and fun as everyday transport.
Twenty five years have passed since Australia started seeing 180SX and Silvia coupes yet a lot of those early imports have survived and the money being sought for good ones remains around $12,000. Later examples of the 180SX and turbo Silvia cost slightly more but the real jump comes when buyers want a late-1990s S15 Silvia or one of the locally-delivered 200SXs. The local cars come in Limited, Sport or Luxury trim however so much time has passed since they were new that condition and modifications are now the major contributors to value. As something different with potential to appreciate, consider the S15 Silvia Varietta with folding hardtop for around $20,000.
Excitement over early GT-R Skylines has cooled. Just one at $100,000+ was offered locally in recent months and that’s in line with the US$68,500 paid at a US West Coast auction. The cars worth watching are DR30 and HR31 Hardtops – especially the latter – as they have a style that ages graciously and enough competition kudos to justify $50,000 pricing. Complaints that last year’s guide ignored the Stanza have been noted and it was good to stumble on a scarce SSS on offer at strong money. Locally-sold 2.8-litre Skyline sedans and hatchbacks have become scarce yet remain cheap. Early Patrol 4WDs, unlike equivalent Toyotas, are mostly ‘barn finds’ that no one is very keen to restore.
A couple of very different but still popular models occupy this section; the 300ZX which dates back 35 years and the relatively new Stagea station wagon. It doesn’t take a big stretch of imagination to see one of each in a Nissan enthusiast’s garage for a combined outlay of less than $20,000. Add $8K if you want a twin-turbo RS260 version of the Stagea to match your Z32 with its dual ‘snails’. Early non-turbo or single-turbo 300Zs are holding their values OK but the Z32 twin-turbo ‘grey’ imports have become very cheap as age catches up. Under $10,000 buys an Aussiedelivered, non-turbo Z32 and also the basic, single-turbo 2.5 Stagea.
Skylines were and perhaps still are the most prolific of ‘grey’ Japanese imports and interest in 1990s models is holding firm. A couple of years back it seemed feasible that non-turbo R32 and R33 Skylines might be gone by now but there are just so many of them and prices have even climbed slightly. Non-turbo R34 GTs are more sophisticated than earlier versions and usually cost less than $10,000 but the R34 GT-T sedan is just slightly dearer. R33 GTS-Turbo coupes are still endemic in the market but values have slipped only a little since 2018. Star of the single-turbo Skyline market is still the chunky R34 GT-T coupe. Despite being 20 years old, top-quality cars maintain values around $20,000.
The Nissan R32 Skyline GTR (aka Godzilla) has officially become a ‘vintage’ car. The earliest ones appeared in 1989 and while basic R32s aren’t rare with over 37,000 built, the 100 cars imported and complied by Nissan Australia occupy a special market and are headed for $100,000. Typical ‘grey’ imports are climbing too but should sell in the $35-45,000 range. A small sample size has helped the average for BNR33 versions and decent examples are being seen below the average at around $35,000. The R34 GTR is available in quite prolific numbers but maintains its value here and on international markets. Collectors have spent close to $300,000 on a ‘Nur’ limited edition but you can save $150K and get a V-Spec.
The latest Japanese-spec Skyline sedan hasn’t enchanted people to the same extent as earlier versions. The V250 and 350 sedans are perhaps too close in style to the 350Z and a lot sell below their $10,000 asking prices. V35GT coupes weren’t supposed to compete directly against locally-sold 350Zs but they do and prices for the imports have been slashed to compete. One anomaly is the number of low-priced Z convertibles which have no ‘grey’ rivals and can get below $10,000. Sharing this segment is also the aptly named, 3.5-litre V6 Elgrand. These huge people movers have flooded the market, with 2003-08 arrivals forcing earlier models towards $5,000. With eight seats and every known automotive gizmo, a late model at less than $20,000 is value.
The era of the ‘enthusiast’ Subaru has disappeared (BRZ excepted) and interesting Subes from the 1980s-90s are vanishing. We saw just one of the rally-rocket RX 4WDs offered and two cheap SVXs and no Vortex coupes at all. Liberty-based RS Turbos are looking like a threatened species however prices are steady. A couple of ex-NZ twin-turbo GTB wagons were offered at ambitious prices but cheaper and preferable for frequent use is the Liberty B4, with good ones still below $8000. Anyone in the market for a traditional 4WD Subaru won’t have to look hard or spend very much. Brumby utilities were last sold new 25 years ago yet plenty survive and very good ones cost $5000. L Series wagons from the 1980s-90s, still handy for gentle off-roading and beach fishing, cost $2000-4000.
WRXs in parts of Australia where 25 years marks the transition from regular registration to ‘Historic’ can now save their owners some money. Some vendors have however reacted by almost doubling the asking prices for 1994-97 Rexes but demand doesn’t seem strong enough to justify movement of that size. 1998-01 cars remain the most affordable of WRXs and are hard to distinguish from the early ones. After that came some controversial styling changes which seem to be supporting a strengthening market for 2001-06 cars. An estimated 10,000 of the 1990s two-door STI were made and, with new import rules being rolled out, availability of Type R versions might improve. The ultra-rare 22B STi is worth $200K and unlikely to ever get cheaper.
Adding ‘STi’ as a descriptor seems to be the simplest way of doubling the value of a basic Subaru. ‘Subaru Technica International’ supplied the cars that became the brand’s World Rally contenders and also brought relevance to various models never intended for motor sport. Problem is when STI versions become so common that the market can see no point in paying a big premium for exclusivity, the prices crash. Thus we see STI versions of the G3 WRX at just $20,000 and of the Liberty GT at $3000-5000 less. People in the market for a family car with real performance can access a normal GT with the 2.5 Turbo motor at $10-12,000 or the WRX G3 at a few thousand more.
Suzuki for many years avoided collector attention but just lately people are showing interest in cars from the 1980s-90s and 4WDs from even earlier. Most common are 25-35 year-old Sierras at $4-5000 and LJ50 and LJ80 off-roaders for slightly more money. It seemed a while back that Suzuki’s minuscule off-roaders were finished, but owners are spending big sums restoring early ones. Rekindled interest in the Mighty Boy miniature utility is taking these towards $5000 where buyers will also find decent examples of the micro-size Carry van and pickup. Surviving GTi Swifts remain hard to find but prices are unchanged and $7000 isn’t much for a top example of a car that once led its category in Production Car racing.
The Corona that arrived in 1964 changed Australia’s medium-car market forever and surely deserves better treatment than is its current lot. Excellent examples of the 1960s ‘shovel-nose’ normally sell at $5000-7000 and rarely make $10,000. There is little incentive to preserve later versions when values for 1978-86 cars are typically below $4000. Corona hardtops do better but are very scarce even in Japan. Early Corollas are doing well, especially early KE70 Sprinters and KE55 coupes. With rally heritage and kudos with today’s ‘drift’ enthusiasts, the AE86 Sprinter remains popular and prices are strong. Corolla fans going for the top shelf Levin and Trueno two-doors need to look at the import market and budget $30-35,000.
The money still being lavished on elderly Landcruisers is extraordinary and finding one that isn’t too pampered to be taken near a bush track is proving difficult. Still, our 1970s Cruiser average is nothing like the money being paid in the USA. Moving into the realms of six-cylinder sedans we find Cressida MX70s from the mid-1980s at less than $5000 and the more powerful and impressive MX80 for only a little more. Toyota Crowns haven’t been sold new in Australia since the 1980s but the market has taken a fancy to Japanese domestic versions. Recent imports come in a range of engine and trim specs and around $12,000 should buy an Athlete – yes, an athletic Crown –’[ with wagon bodywork and twin-turbo power.
Might D. Morley’s ‘project’ RA40 be invigorating interest in older Celicas? We would like to think so, because the market for 1978-85 rear-wheel drive Celicas is looking strong and the money being asked is improving. First-Gen. TA22s are headed towards $20,000 while later, Mustang-back RA23s can make double that money. Versions that should be doing better are pioneering front-wheel drive models, especially the ST162 SX hatchback and four-headlight ST204. GT4s with all-wheel drive are scarce and early versions at $15,000 worthwhile. Potent and scarce Group A rally coupes are well shy of where they should be, however values are climbing. For a classy but affordable daily drive, chase down a post-1998 ZR in the region of $6000.
Mid-engined MR2s can’t seriously be considered a ‘mini-Ferrari’, or can they? Park an early AW11 alongside a Mondial and the later SW20 version next to a Testarossa there are similarities. They end of course with the money you will spend to own a Mister Two, with locally-delivered SW20 cars in the $8-12,000 range and excellent Japanese-spec Turbos sometimes reaching $20,000. One to watch is the supercharged 1987-89 AW11 which wasn’t sold new here but they are trickling in at $16-20,000. The MR-Spyder is the only full convertible MR2 derivative and worth a look at $12,000. While MR2 numbers in our market are solid, the gull-wing Sera and conventional Paseo both look headed for extinction.
Toyota’s sporty Caldina wagons haven’t been made since 2007 and are getting scarce. Those hunting a distinctive family wagon should take a look, especially at the GT Four versions of the later ST246 at $10-12,000. Pre-2002 models are less sophisticated but much cheaper. The Estima people-mover with sleek looks and lots of equipment for minimal money makes life tough for anyone trying to sell an older, Aussie-spec Tarago. In the world of Estima, newer is better and not necessarily a lot dearer so try to stump up $15,000 for a post-2004 Estima G. During the 1990s, Toyota’s 4WD Surf arrived here literally by the thousands but they have all but vanished and only the later 3.0-litre diesels are worth much at all.
The Z30 Soarer which appeared in 1991 deserves far greater respect than is currently available in the used market. SC400 versions with one of the sweetest V8s built in recent years cost the same as a Celica of similar age, as do 3.0-litre versions. Twin-turbo Soarers do better and some of the later cars can exceed $15,000. Really good 2.5TT survivors are so rare they should be sitting in glass cases but that seems not to be happening and soon there will be none left. In fact you can currently pay more for the big, fast but dull Chaser sedan that commands hero-car status in Japan for its drift-track exploits. The later Mark X sedan has a modernised and compact body but for reasons that are hard to follow they cost less than a 1990s Chaser.
Publicity generated by the massive money paid recently for a spectacular RZ Twin-Turbo must result in greater awareness of all 1990s Supras. Prices for the latest Twin-Turbo cars in the local market have already topped $50,000 and must surely increase. Versions of the RZ dating back to 1993 are up also on last year’s average. Non-turbo SZ cars look similar to the mega-power turbos but are less than half the price. Late-1980s single turbo MA70 models did well in production racing but so far have generated minimal interest and prices still sit in the $10-15,000 range. On the way up are Celica-based MA61s that were sold in Australia with 2.8-litre engines and are enjoying strong growth internationally. Average cars will reach $15,000 and we saw one vendor confidently asking $25,000.